JONAS Olsson believes competition for places in Steve Clarke's starting XI has intensified following the arrival of Uruguay captain Diego Lugano from Paris Saint-Germain..
Centre-half Lugano, who spent last season on loan at Malaga, put pen to paper on a two-year contract at The Hawthorns on Friday.
Olsson is pleased with the addition of another experienced defender as Albion countdown to the Barclays Premier League opener against Southampton on Saturday, August 17 (ko 3pm).
And he knows the 32-year-old will pose a big threat to the impressive central defensive partnership he has formed with Gareth McAuley over the past two seasons.
"I welcome more additions to the team and the competition, of course," said Olsson.
“It always makes you try harder.
"Before every season, it’s good to have a few new faces. Competition for places is what develops you as a team and an individual.
"It’s vital for the team and hopefully we can get a few more faces in.
"Lugano is a player I know about. His CV is brilliant.
"I think he can be a good addition to our team."
Lugano is Albion's second permanent signing of the summer following the arrival of Nicolas Anelka last month.
The Baggies have also re-signed Goran Popov on a season-long loan and extended the contracts of Gareth McAuley, Steven Reid and Youssouf Mulumbu.
The Sweden international reckons the know-how head coach Clarke has within his squad will be invaluable this season.
“I think experience is important," added Olsson.
"The first year I came that’s what we were lacking when we fell out of the league.
"It feels like a long time ago now.
"You can’t put a price on experience.
"Now we have a lot of experienced players in the team.
"The club showed ambition by giving Gareth, Reidy and Youssouf new contracts.
"Their experience is vital.
"The signing of Nico speaks for itself.
"In our pre-season games, he has shown what a class player he is.
"He’s motivated and a hard worker.
"I’m very happy with that signing.
"Hopefully, by signing him we can attract more players of his standard."
Olsson heads into his sixth season at The Hawthorns as a 30-year-old - but he insists his best years are still ahead of him.
“I’ve been playing professional football for 12 seasons, I think," said Olsson.
"I still enjoy it as much as I did 12 years ago.
"I’m still very much motivated to do well.
"I feel like I can still develop myself every season.
"I’m 30 and I have my best years in front of me as a centre-half.
"The day when I feel like I’m going backwards, that’s the time to maybe think about doing something else.
"At the moment, I feel like I’m progressing every season.
"Sometimes, warming up for training isn’t as easy as it was ten years ago!
"Pre-season is also a bit harder!
"But you know what you’re up against.
"It’s less than two weeks to go now until the fun bit begins.
"That's what you do it all for, and is what you live for.
"When the games come, you embrace them.
"At the start of a new season, everything is fresh and everything is possible."